[noun, adjective suhb-jikt; verb suh b-jekt]



verb (used with object)

Nearby words

  1. subirrigate,
  2. subitize,
  3. subito,
  4. subj.,
  5. subjacent,
  6. subject catalog,
  7. subject catalogue,
  8. subject complement,
  9. subject matter,
  10. subject to, be

Origin of subject

1275–1325; (adj.) < Latin subjectus placed beneath, inferior, open to inspection, orig. past participle of subicere to throw or place beneath, make subject, equivalent to sub- sub- + -jec-, combining form of jacere to throw + -tus past participle suffix; replacing Middle English suget < Old French < Latin, as above; (noun) < Late Latin subjectum grammatical or dialectical subject, noun use of neuter of subjectus; replacing Middle English suget, as above; (v.) < Latin subjectāre, frequentative of subicere; replacing Middle English suget(t)en < Old French sugetter < Latin, as above

1, 4. Subject, theme, topic are often interchangeable to express the material being considered in a speech or written composition. Subject is a broad word for whatever is treated in writing, speech, art, etc.: the subject for discussion. Theme and topic are usually narrower and apply to some limited or specific part of a general subject. A theme is often the underlying conception of a discourse or composition, perhaps not put into words but easily recognizable: The theme of a need for reform runs throughout her work. A topic is the statement of what is to be treated in a section of a composition: The topic is treated fully in this section. 3. reason, rationale. 17. subordinate, subservient. 20. contingent.

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for subject

British Dictionary definitions for subject


noun (ˈsʌbdʒɪkt)

  1. the predominant theme or topic, as of a book, discussion, etc
  2. (in combination)subject-heading
any branch of learning considered as a course of study
grammar logic a word, phrase, or formal expression about which something is predicated or stated in a sentence; for example, the cat in the sentence The cat catches mice
a person or thing that undergoes experiment, analysis, treatment, etc
a person who lives under the rule of a monarch, government, etc
an object, figure, scene, etc, as selected by an artist or photographer for representation
  1. that which thinks or feels as opposed to the object of thinking and feeling; the self or the mind
  2. a substance as opposed to its attributes
Also called: theme music a melodic or thematic phrase used as the principal motif of a fugue, the basis from which the musical material is derived in a sonata-form movement, or the recurrent figure in a rondo
  1. the term of a categorial statement of which something is predicated
  2. the reference or denotation of the subject term of a statement. The subject of John is tall is not the name John, but John himself
an originating motive
change the subject to select a new topic of conversation

adjective (ˈsʌbdʒɪkt) (usually postpositive and foll by to)

being under the power or sovereignty of a ruler, government, etcsubject peoples
showing a tendency (towards)a child subject to indiscipline
exposed or vulnerablesubject to ribaldry
conditional uponthe results are subject to correction


subject to (preposition) under the condition thatwe accept, subject to her agreement

verb (səbˈdʒɛkt) (tr)

(foll by to) to cause to undergo the application (of)they subjected him to torture
(often passive foll by to) to expose or render vulnerable or liable (to some experience)he was subjected to great danger
(foll by to) to bring under the control or authority (of)to subject a soldier to discipline
rare to subdue or subjugate
rare to present for consideration; submit
obsolete to place below
Abbreviation: subj

Derived Formssubjectable, adjectivesubjectability, nounsubjectless, adjectivesubject-like, adjective

Word Origin for subject

C14: from Latin subjectus brought under, from subicere to place under, from sub- + jacere to throw

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for subject
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for subject


A part of every sentence. The subject tells what the sentence is about; it contains the main noun or noun phrase: “The car crashed into the railing”; “Judy and two of her friends were elected to the National Honor Society.” In some cases the subject is implied: you is the implied subject in “Get me some orange juice.” (Compare predicate.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with subject


In addition to the idiom beginning with subject

  • subject to, be

also see:

  • change the subject
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.